Humiliation of women and degradation of the environment just got a stamp of approval in the US.
Amidst the shock felt this morning there is a lot of anger. Like many, I woke up and thought how can a man who belittled women, muslims, latinos, environmentalists, blacks, less-abled people, almost everybody so definitively win against an experienced candidate to become the next President of America? Does this mean that secretly in our society it is perfectly okay to devalue women? That someone with literally no political experience was a better choice than a potential female President? Or that people didn't care strongly enough to go out and vote for Hilary?
Many questions and I don't have the answers. However, instead of sitting on the sofa and despairing I joined the Fawcett Society today along with my husband, sister, and sister-in-law. The Fawcett Society campaign for women's rights in the UK and their strap line - Equality: It's about time - pretty much sums up how I feel. I joined because I strongly believe everybody deserves to reach their potential and be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their sex, race or religion. I also believe climate change is a greater threat to world stability than Trumps election victory, as extreme weather events reduce resources and push more people to the edge.
Instead of turning off politics and feeling powerless, the results in America are a real reason for us to take action, to do more than moan with friends but to demand real change and a fairer society as a feminist and an environmentalist. Being involved in the debate and being political is a necessity if things are to change. As Ken Loach said whilst discussing his film I Daniel Blake "Agitate, Educate, Organise". It is pretty fair to say most people are agitated at the moment!
Yes, we have a female prime minister but equality in the UK is far from widespread in terms of careers, pay, landownership and opportunity. Everyday sexism is still prevalent but it shouldn't be. Just, this week I went with friends to our local hotel. I was about to order a glass of wine when the barman said 'Could you hurry up please, I have a customer to serve?' And as I looked over there at the other end of the bar was a man. Was I somehow not a customer too with money in my (non-existent) pocket? I spoke with the manager the next day who immediately defended his staff member, having neither spoken to him nor witnessed the incident. Needless to say, I won't be going back in a hurry.
And this is a crucial point. Women make the majority of decisions on purchases. That is where the real power lies in the economic value of our collective choices; which car, which holiday, which utility, which shop, which movie we choose to watch and which bar we go to. This consumer power also offers us a solution to climate change. We can chose to switch to a clean energy provider, buy an electric car and cut out red meat in our diet.
Trump does not believe in Global Warming. Yet, for the first time ever there is global consensus that urgent action is needed to stop burning fossil fuels. Even oil exporting countries like Saudi Arabia have signed the Paris Agreement... thus Trump's position is entirely ridiculous. In the future when he is faced with communities that are flooded or hurricanes hit home he won't be able to keep denying the facts that are so well summed up in Leonardo DiCaprio's new film Before the Flood. This movie highlights how urgent it is to stop burning fossil fuels and switch to clean energy like wind and solar power. So on this day I urge everybody to watch it and tell their friends about it and to support the work of the Climate Change Coalition here in the UK. [The Coalition represents charities from RSPB, Friends of the Earth and Women's Institute who are working to raise awareness of climate change and ask for 100% clean energy within a generation.]
Women are also the main educators, in schools, colleges and homes so children can learn that equality not only matters but it is to be expected as the norm from today. Now more than ever is the time to educate and then to organise so we are not just agitated.